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There is a reason the likes of Elizabeth Taylor and Elvis and Priscilla Presley owned homes in Palm Springs, California. Whether you are looking for a relaxing getaway or a weekend of non stop partying, Palm Springs has it all. From stunning mountain views to museums and Mid-century modern architecture, these are the top 10 things to do in Palm Springs.There is a reason the likes of Elizabeth Taylor and Elvis and Priscilla Presley owned homes in Palm Springs, California. Whether you are looking for a relaxing getaway or a weekend of non stop partying, Palm Springs has it all. From stunning mountain views to museums and Mid-century modern architecture, these are the top 10 things to do in Palm Springs.
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Palm Springs is home to the world’s largest rotating tram car. The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway takes you over two and a half miles along the cliffs of Chino Canyon to the wilderness of Mount San Jacinto State Park and Wilderness Area, all while rotating slowly offering a panoramic view of the valley like no other. Beginning at Valley Station, the ride takes about 10 minutes to reach the Mountain Station which sits about 8,516 feet above the desert floor and offers a variety of activities. During the summer, you can opt for guided nature walks or go hiking or camping. In the winter, you can ski, snowshoe, or cozy up in Peaks Restaurant while enjoying the view of the Coachella Valley.
Established in 1994, Joshua Tree National Park is located where the Mojave and Colorado Deserts meet. What makes this National Park so unique is the vast contrast between the two desert ecosystems. Spanning over the eastern half of the park, the Colorado Desert lies about 3,000 feet below the Mojave Desert. Though mostly barren, this section is home to desert flora such as creosote bushes and the occasional ocotillo and cholla cactus. The western expanse on the other hand transitions into a seemingly endless stretch of sandy plains, iconic giant yuccas, also known as Joshua Trees, and granite monoliths. This year-round park offers stunning views, trails that are open to hiking, biking and horseback riding, and stony terrain perfect for rock climbing.
Photo Credit: Gary Bembridge CC BY 2.0
Find yourself in Palm Springs? Well, you can tour the house that Elvis and Priscilla Presley called home. In 1962, Look Magazine dubbed this home designed by the architecture firm Palmer and Krisel and built by Robert Alexander, the House of Tomorrow. Known for it’s Mid-20th century modern design, the House of Tomorrow caught the eye of Elvis and Priscilla Presley who rented it for an occasional retreat from Los Angeles in 1966 and even honeymooned there in 1967.
Photo Credit: Joe Wolf CC BY-ND 2.0
Founded in 1938, the Palm Springs Art Museum may be small in size, but the collection is not lacking. Enjoy pieces by the likes of Andy Warhol and Marc Chagall, as well as a variety of rotating exhibits featuring internationally acclaimed artists and genres of impressionism, pop and graphic art, architecture and contemporary sculpture. You can experience this cultural oasis in about one to two hours and for free every Thursday between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Located on South Palm Canyon Drive, this family-owned one-acre garden was also established in 1938. Patricia and Chester “Cactus Slim” Moorten took great care collecting plants from locations such as Baja California, Mexico and other countries as far south as Guatemala to create the collection they have today, featuring over 3,000 plants arranged by geographic region. Their son Clark, who grew up traveling with his parents collecting plants for their establishment, is now the caretaker. The garden is open for tours year-round and can even be rented for special events.
The Palm Springs Air Museum is the perfect place for a history buff. With over 59 vintage flying and static aircraft, this museum houses one of the world’s largest collections of flyable WWII planes. The Palm Springs Air Museum preserves, exhibits and flies aircraft from WWII, Korea and the Vietnam Wars. What makes this museum even more unique is that it focuses on the role that Air Power played in winning WWII. Many of their guides are veterans themselves and share their own first hand experiences.
The Coachella Valley Preserve is a protected area of about 880 acres. This habitat is home to the endangered Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard and consists of desert wetland and palm woodland oases. Beginning at the Visitor’s Center, there are 28 miles of trails that lead through various landscapes for both hiking and horseback riding.
Known especially for their tacos, El Jefe is a can’t miss cantina off the Saguaro hotel’s lobby boasting a menu of Mexican street food such as shrimp tacos, chorizo sausages, and Palm Springs’ largest selection of tequilas and mescals. From the atmosphere to the menu, you won’t want to miss out on an El Jefe Taco Tuesday, or Taco Thursday, when you’re in Palm Springs.
One of three major wind farms in California, the San Gorgonio Pass is one of the windiest places in Southern California. Covered with 3,500 windmills that generate electricity, the San Gorgonio Pass contributes to the California Wind Energy project that provides enough electricity to power more than two million homes in California.
With all of these outdoor attractions, Palm Springs is the place to be for nature lovers. The Tahquitz Canyon hikeis about 1.7 miles long and ends at a stunning seasonal 60-foot waterfall. The Tahquitz Canyon Visitor Center is located at the beginning of the trail and offers educational and cultural exhibits as well as an observation deck.
Looking for a place to stay during your time in Palm Springs? Check out Ace Hotel & Swim Club in Palm Springs. With 179 rooms, a spa and multiple pools, this hotel is a prime spot for both its amenities and location. Its close proximity to Joshua Tree National Park and downtown Palm Springs makes Ace Hotel the perfect place to relax and unwind after a day of touring the oasis that is Palm Springs, California.